- Improved access to bicycles for lower-income communities is pivotal
- Road safety (traffic) and personal security (crime prevention) along cycling routes must be improved
- The planning, design and provision of cycling lanes must be location-specific, i.e. what works in one area does not necessarily apply in another
- Cycling infrastructure such as cycle lanes, bicycle parking facilities, and storage facilities must be maintained
Cape Town - The City of Cape Town has embarked on an initiative to help safeguard the cycle lane that runs along the red MyCiTi bus lane between the Cape Town central business district and the MyCiTi station in Table View.
This cycle lane is very popular among cyclists, and the officers have been deployed to improve the general safety of cyclists – in particular those who prefer to cycle alone or have to use the lane after hours.
The officers are permanently deployed and work two shifts per day. They work in close collaboration with internal role-players like the Graffiti Unit, Anti- land Invasion Unit, Displaced Peoples Unit, Metro Police, Social Development Department, and Traffic Service as well as external role-players like the South African Police Service and the Immigration Department.
The cycle lane is patrolled on a daily basis from 05:30 until 21:30. Some of the officers are deployed in vehicles and others patrol the cycle lane on motorcycles.
Part of their functions involve inspecting the MyCiTi stations and acting as brand ambassadors by educating passengers and making them aware of the rules applicable to those making use of the service.
The officers use two-way radios and have direct access to the control room, camera response unit, and the vehicle operating centre. They can also communicate with each other.
"Before the deployment of the officers, some members of the public complained about being targeted by opportunistic criminals along certain sections of the route, in particular in those areas which are deserted after hours. I am happy to say that we have seen an increase in the number of cyclists using the cycle lane since the officers have started patrolling," said MayCo Member for Transport and Urban Development, Brett Herron.
To date the officers have arrested suspects for mugging, pick-pocketing and theft. They have also issued fines to motorists and motorcyclists caught using the red road (BRT lane) illegally.
"Our Cycling Strategy aims to increase the percentage of commuter trips made by bicycle from the current 1% to 8% by 2030," said Herron.
"We have committed substantial resources over the past eight years in pursuing the vision of a cycling-friendly city. Currently cyclists have access to at least 450 km of cycle lanes across the city, some of which are separate from the road.
"Although some of these lanes are popular for recreational cycling, we want to see substantial growth in commuter cycling which is required to have a noticeable impact on traffic congestion, greenhouse gas emissions, and to improve mobility in the lower-income areas," he said.
Some of the key strategies identified in the Cycling Strategy are as follows:
"The deployment of the officers along this popular cycle route will assist us in growing the number of commuter cyclists. In so doing, we are also improving the safety of cyclists and MyCiTi commuters," Herron said.
"This is one of the priorities identified in the City’s Organisational Development and Transformation Plan, which aims to promote the use of public transport, walking and cycling among commuters."